Monday, 14 June 2010

Saturday 12th June

Sorry there are lots of photos today but this is just a very small selection!

We saw shepherds in a field at the side of the road and also passed an area where camel were being farmed.

Today we had our second trip to Palestine. We first went to Herodian; Herod the Great's fortified palace which he build for entertaining. We were told by our guide about how Herod build a natural hillside up to made a distinctive shaped "volcanic" mound – he literally moved the mountain.

Our journey continued to the Shepherds Field where we had communion overlooking the hillside. We then went on to the olive wood co-operative. We were made very welcome and were given ice cold drinks and then later had local coffee; I'm sure it was just a ploy to help us spend more! We heard about the work of the co-operative and how the workers have had problems with selling their work.

A drive to Bethlehem brought us to the Bethlehem Arab Rehabilitation Centre where we had lunch and then heard about some of the work they undertake. We were also told about some of the problems created by the security wall and were taken up to the roof so we could see how close to their building it was. We then drove to the town centre so we could visit Manger square and the Church of the Nativity. The last group Sami had taken had to queue for two hours to get in so I wasn't particularly looking to this as it was incredibly hot. We walked up and almost went straight in; our timing was perfect as several large groups arrived just behind us. Instead of a noisy, crowded place the church was reasonably peaceful and prayerful. We also visited the next door church of St Catherine and the small chapel of St Joseph.

Our smooth entry meant we headed bag to Jerusalem in good time which was fortunate as we had a long wait to get through the security checkpoint and hit heavy traffic as we came into Jerusalem. I went back to the Souk to have another look round and to buy a few more bits. I headed back for a bath before dinner and washed off the day's stickiness.

That evening the hotel had organised a special traditional Palestinian meal with entertainment. We all had to wear cardboard crowns and one person had a marked hat so was dressed up as the Sultana along with her chosen Sultan. At the end of the meal there was some traditional dancing.

I joined some of our group for a walk and a drink at a cafe while the rest remained behind to watch the football.

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